LOS ANGELES (AP) — Southern California health officials say they'll be keeping a close watch on people returning from pilgrimages to the Muslim holy land this year — checking to see if they are bringing back a potentially deadly flu-like virus.

People returning with bad coughs or flu-like symptoms could be infected with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus.

So far, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday, the virus has been detectedonly in Europe and the Middle East. It is deadly more than 40 percent of the time.

Millions travel to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in the Middle East this time of year for the annual pilgrimage known as hajj.

LA County's public health director, Dr. Jonathan Fielding, says physicians will quickly check those returning with suspicious fevers or coughs.